DUNCAN, OK (KSWO) - Duncan High's award-winning Demon band formed giant letters U and W at midfield on the manicured turf at Halliburton Stadium Friday, saluting the United Way of Stephens County and its 14 partner agencies.
Members of the organization's board of directors gathered at the 50-yard-line, facing a big home team crowd. Deano Cox, area internal affairs director from AT&T, carried a giant-sized check for $10,000 and on signal presented it to United Way chairman Nicole Punneo as red, white and blue helium balloons lifted into the clear, but breezy sky. Dozens of miniature United Way footballs were tossed into the stands by peppy cheerleaders.
With much fanfare, the United Way of Stephens County launched its 2016-17 fundraising campaign, aware of the county's economic concerns but optimistic the communities will rise to the challenge of meeting and exceeding an ambitious $300,000 goal.
"It was certainly a unique way to kick off our campaign," chairman Marty Askins, who also chaired the United Way's 2001 campaign, admitted. "There was a lot of community involvement and excitement and we hope that spirit spills over into the actual campaign."
Campaign officials now move into the critical stages. Officials will meet with civic clubs and groups. Loaned executives will begin training, then make specific calls to more than 60 businesses and companies. Brochures will be distributed throughout the county. The annual video will be completed and shared. Direct mail pieces will be sent. Telephone calls will be made. And follow-up contact will be frequent.
Follies IV presented by AT&T, a variety show, agency display and fundraiser, is set for Friday, October 7 at the Duncan Golf and Tennis Club.
"We couldn't be more pleased with the Stephens County kickoff," Cox said. "It was unique. It was fun. And we share your optimism that this year's goal will be reached. Stephens County has a reputation for taking care of its own. AT&T is proud to be part of your long heritage of making a positive difference."
The United Way of Stephens County started as the Community Chest in 1954. More than 1,400 giving units were recorded last year when the campaign topped its $350,000 goal. Additional help will be pursued this year due to layoffs in the energy and energy-related fields, the state's highest unemployment and general economic uncertainty in the area.
"We have a solid plan," Askins said of the 2016-17 campaign. "We have good people in key places. And we're all willing to work hard because we know the needs served by monies we collect. We encourage everyone possible to help us, to get involved and to share whatever they can. Our theme is United We Can! and we believe we will."
Other officers on the United Way board are Lucy Parker of Wilco Machine and Fab, vice chairman; Adrianne Arrington of Jay Kinder Real Estate , secretary; Zac Pogue of First National Bank of Velma, treasurer; and Doug Volinski of Duncan Regional Hospital, past president.
Agencies that partner with the United Way are Christians Concerned, Delta Community Action Foundation, Douglass Eastside Senior Citizens Center, Duncan Community Residence, Duncan Literacy Council, Duncan Senior Citizens Center, Gabriel's House Academy, Women's Haven and Youth Services for Stephens County.
To make a contribution or to become involved in this year's campaign, call the United Way office at (580) 255-3648 or contact Ed Darling, executive director, at email@example.com.